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WORLD SPORT

Federer wins, Nalbandian toppled

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Robredo, seeded 15, was delighted with his defeat of Nalbandian.

MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- World number one Roger Federer cruised into the Monte Carlo Open quarterfinals on Thursday, ending the adventure of hometown qualifier Benjamin Balleret 6-3 6-2.

The Swiss top seed's next opponent will be eighth seed David Ferrer who battled past 11th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-1 6-7 6-3 in an all-Spanish baseline duel.

In the surprise result of the day, 15th seed Tony Robredo, also Spain, beat Argentine third seed David Nalbandian 5-7 6-1 7-5 after more than three hours on the clay court.

Ferrer and Federer met in the semifinals of the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami three weeks ago when the latter triumphed 6-1 6-4.

Croatian fourth seed Ivan Ljubicic dispatched Gilles Simon, the last French hope, 6-3 6-2. The result means that France will not have a player in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals for the second time in 10 years.

Balleret recorded the win of his life in the second round when he ousted Sebastien Grosjean, France's number one and the 13th seed.

Grosjean retired with a back injury when Balleret was leading 4-6 7-5 3-2. He was rewarded by a match against Federer who took only 55 minutes to win.

"It was a fabulous experience," the 23-year-old said. "It's even better because I have the feeling that Roger didn't take me lightly and played his real game.

"I did what I could and never felt ridiculous but it was a bit difficult at the end," Balleret said.

Ranked 351 in the world, Balleret was playing in his first ATP tournament after coming straight from the Futures circuit, two levels below.

Son of a former French Fed Cup player Alexia Dechaume and of tennis coach Bernard Balleret, he was two points away from losing in the first round of the qualifying tournament.

"I was hoping to go through the first qualifying round. I proved to myself I could make it if I worked hard enough in training. I hope it will go on," he said.

The match against Ferrer was yet another disappointment for Ferrero, who is still struggling to recover the form which took him to the French Open title and the number one spot in 2003.

After losing the first set in 24 minutes, the 26-year-old Spaniard, winner in Monte Carlo in 2002 and 2003, clawed his way back into the match, clinching the second set 7-5 in the tie-break.

In the third set, he could not match Ferrer's powerful ground strokes and bowed out after two hours 21 minutes on his opponent's second match point.

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